Ben is from the UK and has been a subscriber from way back. Seriously, he's been with the company longer than I have!
Ben has graciously volunteered to be our first Featured Dice Goblin! We have built an amazing community of RPG fans and dice enthusiasts here, and we thought it would be awesome to celebrate some of them. Reach out if you like free dice and are interested in joining the fun!
So without further ado, let's get to know Ben!
When did you get into TTRPGs?
I think my first taste was back in school (so 17?) – A friend of mine knew I loved the work of H.P. Lovecraft and invited me for a game of the Call of Cthulhu TTRPG. We played an 11 hour game across time and space and I was totally hooked. Shout out to that Felix Isaacs… I told him he should write TTRPGs at the time and he is just launching the first expansion for his game The Wildsea! A few years before that I remember being ‘too young’ for the Inquisitor game system Games Workshop released but I desperately tried to get my head around it. That game was an amalgamation of Wargaming and TTRPGs though I couldn’t appreciate that at the time. I was interested in the more story driven aspects of that system, the dice in service to story, not the other way round as it often is with Wargames.
Some of Ben's collection along with his wife's crocheted dice bags (keep scrolling for a link to the pattern).
Why do you love tabletop gaming?
I am a professional storyteller/bard working with myth and teach English at a local school. My vocational/academic work focuses on the role of the imagination in human identity and stories as psychosocial memetic entities. That is a bunch of complicated words to say that playing tabletop games is a way for me to explore the nature of imagination in a fun, engaging way. Dungeons and Dragons got me through the pandemic, my friends and I hadn’t played in years but managed to get two long sessions in a week in the height of lockdown. Community, play, storymaking, challenge, risk & reward, having a hobby with a variety of activities associated with it… Tabletop gaming is a total blast! Gods I’d even forgotten until just now I ran a TTRPG club while I was at university. Have I actually answered the question? Tabletop gaming generates memorable, moving and hilarious stories in collaboration with group imagination – That’s why I love it. It is a deliberate escapism that makes ordinary reality exciting while still teaching you about yourself. That is the fundament of stories – We see our lives mirrored in them and learn from these simulated experiences. Its also just hecking fun to have a blast with your friends gathered round a table playing.
What do you like to play (DND, Pathfinder, etc)?
My core group are a DND gang, which I have a lot of time for as a resilient and accessible system with enough bells and whistles to act as a medium for stories rather than a genred game system. But I personally LOVE pathfinder (one day I’ll convince them to switch). The Wildsea mentioned above is a total delight – Iterant worldbuilding and characters that create a weaving together of disparate elements into a tight game system. When it’s just me and my wife then we’ll throw down in the city of Gloomhaven (We both resent the lack of dice in this game). But I also run a Warhammer hobby club at my school. I am interested in the different stories that game systems can tell but also how they activate different parts of my imagination. If I want to dive deep into a world and live within it then a TTRPG is the way to go. If I’m feeling like I want to roll a lot of dice (and I have a few) then a wargame is the way to go. Of course my original love was the Call of Cthulhu D100 system – Learning as much occult mythos as you can until you go mad or die will never not be fun.
What is your favorite or “go to” game?
I can run a game of Dungeons and Dragons anywhere with a few people and a set of dice. What a total delight to run impromptu, entirely improvised games with new friends at the back of a dark and noisy pub! The basic, fundamental interactions between GM and players are so easy to manifest its the go-to (though of course we play fast and loose with the rules in those situations). Its broader appeal means practically everyone is willing to jump in and give it a go.
Do you have a favorite moment from a tabletop game?
As a player: Concluding the eleven hour Call of Cthulhu one-shot. We had travelled with a strange companion named Mida that was hinted to have some strange talents and abilities into a kind of Ancient Egyptian underdark, the big boss was about to bring down a huge tower holding up the sky on top of us. Felix our keeper asked the three players ‘You have five seconds to react, what do you do?’, being totally in character and in the moment I shouted immediately in reply ‘Mida, safety now!’. It was an organic moment where the keeper and the players were all in total sync and reacting to the world as if it were real and happening. Our companion ripped open into an eldritch being, grabbed the party with lashing tentacles and tore us out of the exploding tower to safety. We were all making split second decisions in reaction to where the story was going. It left a lasting and powerful impression on me and would later lead to my academic work exploring the imagination.
As a DM: In our DnD campaign, the party learnt all about the great disaster of years prior by exploring the ruined estate of one of the player characters family. It was so cool essentially revealing the backstory of a character and the world through the players investigating the ruins, finding family heirlooms, examining the wreckage of doomsday stopping machines, there was even a Grey Render stalking the woods where its dark master had fallen years ago. I love to play with time to tell the story and soon the party will play through that day of disaster as a flashback one-shot, with the player character playing their parent and the others playing the other party members alive at the time. It’s so fun to build up legends and then let the players experience it first hand – Only a tabletop game would facilitate such a crescendo of incredible events.
As a viewer: I am indebted to my favourite moment of watched play – The Calamity miniseries with Brennan guest hosting Critical Role. Those episodes are to me the crown in the dragon’s hoard of deep, interconnected and poignant storytelling from masters of their craft.
How many sets of dice do you own?
I honestly have no idea, I squirrel them away in bags, give them away to new players and friends… I think I have like thirty sets here right now. Many are looking for a home - It is important to me that each new character, player or team gets a thematic dice set. We know the dice are weaving the stories together with us, casting chaos into the order of a game system to create memorable experiences… so having a certain set associated with a certain game system, character or wargame general really brings the experience to a satisfying place. It’s a great way to introduce new players – First things first, choose some dice!
Do you have a favorite Libris Arcana set?
This is so hard – I ask this question a lot (especially when new sets arrive). The Genesis set I really felt like I had been gifted a piece of EPIC gear from within a game. I think they were a new way of making them? And I think the colours, the occlusions, shape and weight are just spot on. The Infinite are a close second as part of the same style of dice. More recently Perseid really blew me away (I feel like you really nailed it with that set and Rainbow Sherbet). But gosh, they are all so unique and interesting. I am constantly impressed that you are able to iterate and make such distinct, intriguing and beautiful dice each time. They are so far above other dice available. I don’t think there is a single set that hasn’t impressed (even if I’m not the biggest fan of Orange). I really love your dice! Salinda, my wife and I often fight over who gets what when a set arrives. I’m lucky enough to have a set of the Hellfire handmade dice and they also deserve special mention for being next level beautiful.
Any ideas for dice designs you’d like to see in the future?
I would love to see the kind of design mentioned above make a come back – There were a few sets like it but I think you guys moved on to a new production method? Either in that style of the Perseid style I think something like a Tyrian purple, Cerulean blue and Persian green with mythril (white silver/platinum?) glitter occlusions would be totally amazing. Super excited for the new Cerulean Haze set which is proof of concept for that kind of array of colours I guess (and a return of the Genesis/Infinite style?!) but I think it would need to have some translucence like Genesis does so well with the more saturated palette above. It would be called Odyssey because I love that story so dearly and it speaks to the wine dark sea, Odysseus’ purple sea cloak, the love between Odysseus and Penelope (Persian Green has associations with the heart in Arthurian legend) and mythril glitter the cresting waves of the voyage.
(I love these ideas! - Dan)
Is “Dice Goblin” an insult or a badge of honor?
Oh it is entirely and utterly a badge of honour. On the rare occasions I am playing and not running a game I love to play Goblins (or Kobolds!) and have a blast inverting all expectations of the race/archetype. I am beyond proud to be a Dice Goblin and it totally fits. However! I couldn’t be a Dice Goblin without you guys working so hard to produce and send out such incredible sets of dice each month. You have my gratitude, my appreciation… and my money!
Finallly, where did you get those crocheted dice bags?!
My wife, Salinda, makes the dice bags. She says they're super simple, and they are a total hit. If you want one of you own, you can find the pattern here.